Compulsive Behavior

Posted by Annie on Jun 12, 2007 in Event |

As a parent I often find it frustrating when my own child displays his compulsive behavior. Our home is filled with it.

This topic is on my mind today because a couple things happened today that really brought the issue to my attention. Earlier the topic came up on one of the lists I subscribe to. One young mother expressed her concern with her 3-year-olds obsession with pennies.

I have either a teaching opportunity or a problem with my 3-year-old. He’s gotten into a penny obsession. It started with an older sibling-sporting event where I wanted to keep him occupied. I gave him a couple of pennies and he self entertained almost the whole time. But then he wouldn’t give me the pennies back and held on to them even at bedtime.

As time has gone on (it’s been a week), he has added to his collection. He has either found them on the ground or has asked people for pennies.

Oh boy, could I relate to this. My son had some strange compulsions when he was that age. He developed a "Blue’s Clues" obsession and for almost three-years he had to have everything Blue’s Clues. He would sleep with his videos, carry a book around with him all day and "skidoo" for anyone who would watch.

Blue's Clues Chair

Moving On

Fortunately, he eventually outgrew his obsession, but much to my dismay, it was replaced with another. We’ve gone through many obsessions in his ten-years. RokenbokMagic School BusLegosStar Wars… Currently, it’s Transformers. He is so focused on them that it’s disturbing to me. At one point he carried a school bus around with him everywhere he went. He never asked to ride one though. (grin)

It just seems to be his way. He will eventually replace this obsession with a new one. The previous obsession will wane, but never be eliminated. It would not surprise me if he continues to obsess over things his entire life.

His father and I tend to be a little (HA!) compulsive in some areas of our life, it’s just something we have learned to live with. We have learned over the years to really limit his television access and thoughtfully consider what we purchase for him, because new toys can begin the start of a new obsession with him. He eventually moves on but in the meantime it can get stressful.

Learned Behavior

It is with all this in mind that I wonder how much of this behavior is learned and how much is genetic. My son is actually no blood relation to me, yet it is plain to me that he has learned at least some of this behavior in his environment.

Both his father (no blood relationship) and I have what we like to call "issues." My husband is nearly blind and will freak out if you move his hairbrush, glasses or contacts. I have issues with fabrics, lotions and other sensory issues.

For instance, my husband had a favorite blanket he loved to sleep with that I just couldn’t stand to touch. He claimed it was very soft, yet to me it might as well have been sandpaper. It was a regular topic of discussion with us. We finally reached a compromise. I got a new blanket and he took over my old Green Bay Packers blanket that I really didn’t care for, but that he would often borrow from me. My son is now the proud new owner of the castoff and loves it as much as his father did. Everyone is happy now.

My own obsessiveness runs pretty deep. I’m even embarrassed to share this next story. My husband just laughs and shakes his head. I’m lucky he is blessed with a good sense of humor.

St. Ives Whipped Silk

The Lotion Search

A couple of weeks ago I went into a tailspin because I was dangerously close to running out of my favorite hand lotion and, despite numerous trips to just about every store in the county, I had been unable to purchase any. I have alligator skin, during the winter months it can get so dry that it hurts when wearing certain fabrics against my skin. I have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on miracle creams and lotions for both my hands and feet.

For many years a trip to the grocery store meant a new bottle of lotion to try out. I finally stumbled upon St. Ives Whipped Silk. Whipped Silk comes in several varieties; I use either the Pure White Silk or the Fresh Orchard Mist; both work equally well. I was very surprised when I tried it because I’ve bought several other St. Ives products (Vitamin E Lotion, Intensive Healing along with others) and was not impressed; they each left my hands feeling greasy.

I was so determined to find some that we scoured the store shelves and I had begun to search online. Before we placed our order, I wanted to be sure we had exhausted all our local options, so we stopped at our local Rite Aid and snagged up two bottles of Whipped Silk for the reasonable price of $3.69. The bottle looked a little strange, but I was so excited that I really didn’t pay much attention.

Until – on our way to yet another store that afternoon, I just had to put some on. Only then did I realize why the bottle looked so different. It wasn’t lotion at all. We had purchased St. Ives Whipped Silk – Moisturizing Body Wash. I needn’t tell you I raced to a washroom to get it off.

When we returned home we renewed our online search, Shawn ran across a site called Nation Wide Campus where we proceeded to order a special they were running on 14 oz. bottles. So we bought 5 for $2.79 each. When we added shipping charges it came out to what we thought was about the same price we could purchase the Whipped Silk locally. I was thrilled!

Wouldn’t you just know, it was just my luck that on our very next trip to the store (Longs Drugs) we found a huge 24 oz. Bottle of St. Ives Whipped Silk Silky Soft Skin. By this time I was completely out of lotion and afraid they were taking it off the market, so I convinced my husband to purchase 5 more bottles at $4.99 each.

Today my shipment from Nation Wide Campus arrived. The box was huge. You can imagine my surprise when I opened it up and found not 5 bottles inside but 15.

I am now the owner of 20 bottles of Whipped Silk. Rest assured, I will not run out any time soon. Storage could turn out to be an issue. Our online purchase turned out to be a real bargain, never mind that we spent over $40 on hand lotion last month, and it appears that I am going to start using body wash even though soap has always worked just fine for me.

Obsessing Together

While I can look back on my own obsessions and laugh, it isn’t always funny, especially when it comes to working with our children. How can I tell him "no," that he doesn’t need the newest transformer, when I can’t control my own lotion habit? Does it matter that he already has over a hundred transformers?

As parents of an obsessive child, we work hard to limit his obsessions. Often it means we must say no to the new toy of the day because we know that one is simply never enough. He is a collector and as such, one always leads to two, and our little guy has a way of wearing us down. After all we don’t want him to be deprived. It sounds ridiculous, but he has a way of making us feel like child abusers because we have said no to his repeated requests.

It’s been a learning process, one that takes patience and, above all, communication between parent and child. We want him to learn to make good choices (unlike his mother) and part of that means including him in on the decision making process. Let’s face it; compulsive people don’t always make the best decisions. We just jump headlong into whatever it is we are obsessing about at the moment.

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  • Annette M. Hall says:

    I have really dry skin and I have found your suggests to work wonders for me as well. I’ve done it for years, especially in the winter.I don’t use lotion on my body at all – only on my hands. You see we have chlorinated water, compliments of the town of Twain Harte. It even smells of chlorine, I hate it. So, if I wash the dishes or wash my hands, they just feel so dry that I can hardly stand it. I don’t use gobs of lotion on my hand, just a tiny bit goes a long way and I have found the Whipped Silk to be perfect. The smell is the least of my worries. I have sensory issues and since I work on my computer all day long, I can’t have dried out hands.I do hope other dry skin sufferers try your suggestion. Baby oil is so much cheaper than hand lotion and makes a lot more sense. I just don’t think I could handle it on my hands. The grease would drive me insane.Thanks for your suggestions.

  • Anonymous says:

    About that “Lotion Search.”Let me say this, I have some understanding of dry skin and I have learned not to pay for those expensive creams that really do nothing other than smell nice. I have learned to do this: wash your body with a body brush – this will remove the old skin, shower, partially pat-dry your skin (you want some water left on you), rub yourslef down with baby oil, put on socks, comfy pants and a shirt. You can wear this to bed, or wear this long enough to feel “dry” from the oil. The next morning – wala! Soft skin. Also, I noticed the more I use lotions, the quicker my skin dries out. I have to wean myself from using them and go back to the baby oil routine. It really works.

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